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Paumanok Path Part 11A

Napeague & Hither Hills State Parks

This two hour hike is less than 5 miles, and takes us another 3 miles along the Paumanok Path (PP).

To get to the starting point, travel east along Montauk Highway, 3 miles beyond Cranberry Hole Road, to the first left turn; look for the Art Barge sign.  Be careful not to miss Napeague Meadow Road.  After traveling .06 miles on Napeague Meadow Road, park on the road shoulder, near the opening to the LIPA access driveway on the left.

On the kiosks erected by State Parks at our destination, the Hither Hills Overlook, it states that the Montaukett Indians named this area “nep” meaning water and “eague” meaning land.  Half of the Napeague Isthmus is composed of tidal and freshwater marshes.  Biting flies and mosquitoes abound here.  Picardin is very effective protection against them; it hasn’t caused the ill effects associated with DEET products. To protect against ticks, wear long pants and fine mesh socks treated with Permethrin; tuck pants into socks.  In doing this, I don’t get bitten and haven’t had a tick attach to me once this year.

Walk about 200’ up the driveway.  At the sign that says “No Vehicles, Environmentally Sensitive Area” you’ll see where the PP crosses the driveway.  A right turn onto the PP would take you to the lovely blue-blazed trail flagged by Mike Bottini; cut and blazed by East Hampton Trails Preservation Society.  It runs west and parallel to the PP.  We turn left traveling east, to continue our series of walks along the PP.  The trail here is very well-blazed and at first the tread is cushioned by a thick layer of pine needles.  Soon the protective canopy of pitch pine thins out to traverse a section of inland dunes.  In places, the bearberry, reindeer lichen, and heather stabilize the trail’s tread, but this easily wears through and in many places the hiker must trudge through loose sand.  At first, the railroad tracks and Montauk Highway are off to our right, then we head in the direction of the most prominent feature in the area, a huge metal radio tower; remnant of WWII.  Blazes on the stumps of cut utility poles and new flexi-stakes, lead us to Napeague Meadow Road, around a bend from where our car is parked.  A short walk along the road, marked by blazes on poles, takes us to a left turn onto the driveway leading to the Art Barge.  A sign says “Victor D’amico Institute of Art.”  Follow the driveway to this unique looking structure; a barge lifted onto the land.  See egrets, kestrel, and terns. Osprey-occupied nests on platforms are dwarfed by the tower.  As you approach the barge, the trail veers away from the tower; be alert for a right turn from the driveway into the dunes to a half mile walk along the shoreline.  There is no blazing along the shore, but if you walk due east, you will come to a bridge spanning a tidal creek that empties into Napeague Harbor.  The blazes on the bridge lead you back to the shore. A short distance after crossing a second bridge, a well-placed blaze leads you onto a driveway that cuts through the dunes and onto Napeague Harbor Road.  100’ to the left, the trail enters the woods on the other side of the road.

As we travel north, away from the water, the canopy of oak, with some bayberry and pine, is replaced by larger pines, holly, beech, hickory, and high and low bush blueberry.  A short walk takes us to an unmarked, yet prominent trail branching to the right.  It would be a mistake to pass up this short excursion to Nominick’s Overlook.  From here, you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of Napeague Harbor to the right, and the Atlantic Ocean to the left. 

The next 1.75 miles follow the section of the Stephen Talkhouse Path that runs just south of the Walking Dunes and Fresh Pond, through dense woods and rolling hills.  At one point, a right turn would take you onto Jerusha’s Hollow Trail.  At the point where these two paths intersect again, further east, don’t follow the left turn blaze to continue along the PP, but instead head straight across the railroad tracks.

From here, a one mile walk along several unmarked trails leads to the Hither Hills Overlook parking area.  After crossing the tracks, turn right onto Old Tar Road, then take a quick left onto Elisha’s Valley Trail.  Turn right onto Old North Road, travel 150’, and turn left onto the Petticoat Hill Trail.  The Petticoat Hill Trail splits in two places, but the split trails rejoin and lead to the Overlook Parking area.

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Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782
ken@litlc.org

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